Previous missions: Luna Flight 01
Celestis provided its first Luna Service mission by helping
friends of noted planetary geologist Dr. Eugene Shoemaker
include a symbolic portion of Dr. Shoemaker's remains on the
NASA Lunar Prospector mission launched January 6,
The spacecraft impacted the lunar surface inside a permanently
shadowed crater near the south lunar pole, creating a permanent
monument to Dr. Shoemaker. Impact occurred at 4:52 a.m. CDT
(9:52 a.m. GMT), July 31, 1999.
Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, a pioneer in the exploration of the
Solar System, had longed to go to the Moon as an Apollo astronaut
and study its geology firsthand. A medical condition diagnosed
in the early 1960s prevented him from doing so. Dr. Shoemaker
went on to help select and train Apollo astronauts in lunar
geology and impact cratering. His achievements in these areas
earned him the United States' highest scientific honor, the
National Medal of Science in 1992. He became world-renowned
when he, his wife Carolyn, and astronomer David Levy discovered
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which impacted the planet Jupiter
in July 1994.
Lunar Prospector was one of the most productive,
least expensive space missions. Part of NASA's Discovery Program,
Lunar Prospector served as a follow-on to the successful
Clementine mission of 1994. In 1994, the Clementine
spacecraft orbiting the Moon made observations that indicated
the presence of water ice on the lunar surface. On March 5,
1998, it was announced that Lunar Prospector had
also found evidence suggesting the presence of water ice at
both lunar poles.
The presence of water ice on the Moon would facilitate future
attempts at lunar colonization. How fitting that Dr. Eugene
Shoemaker participated in one last experiment -- an experiment
that could benefit our future in space.